Hybrid events are all the rage now, and for good reason! They can be a great way to combine the best of both worlds – traditional events and online activities. However, if you’re not careful, you can make a lot of mistakes while planning these kinds of events. So before you get started, read on for some tips to help you avoid common pitfalls!
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Picking the wrong conference platform
Many organizations use an online conference platform to conduct the event’s virtual component. If you’re going to go this route, make sure the platform you choose is compatible with your audience and accessible in a variety of formats – in other words, users should not have a difficult time viewing presentations if they are using a smartphone or tablet.
Also, choose an event company that offers more than one way for participants to interact online. If there are pre-recorded sessions, make sure they are live captioned too so that those who didn’t get a chance to register in time will still be able to enjoy the event. Failure to do this can mean complete chaos during your conference, which is a terrible way to start out.
Lack of technical expertise
Picking a company to broadcast your conferences is only half the battle – you also need to make sure those responsible for broadcasting have the necessary technical expertise.
Companies which specialise in hybrid events should be able to provide you with references from previous clients, as well as examples of their work and details on their team members’ backgrounds and experience.
You can also check from Australian authorities such as ACMA if the company has the necessary licenses to broadcast live online.
Also, make sure you are comfortable with what is included in their pricing model – sometimes extra staff may need to be hired on the fly which can be expensive.
If you’re unsure what types of questions you should be asking when interviewing broadcasting companies, here are a few ideas;
- What kind of events have they worked on before?
- How many presenters do they typically work with at once?
- Do all broadcasts go through additional editing afterwards or can Virtual attendees access raw feeds during sessions?
- Do all recordings stay up indefinitely or are some archived and then deleted after a set time period?
- How confident are they that the technical aspects of the conference will run smoothly during the broadcast time?
Hiring low-quality presenters
You should always put your best foot forward when planning hybrid events. After all, you want your conference to be a representation of your brand and it’s important that you only hire the best presenters for the job!
When hiring presenters, make sure they have a strong online presence as well as offline if possible. This will greatly increase their chances of being picked over other applicants, but beyond that – it just makes good business sense.
Presenters with high social media followings can help drive engagement among Virtual attendees during live sessions. It’s also worth noting that great speakers may also attract additional registrations which can really boost your bottom line!
Poor quality broadcasting
There’s nothing like the feeling of knowing you wasted precious dollars and time on a terrible partner. However, it can be difficult to tell if your broadcasting company is up to scratch.
Here are a few things to look for when planning hybrid events:
- Does the company have a strong social media presence? Do they provide regular updates on their Facebook/Twitter pages as well as those of clients (including testimonials)?
- Are they open about problems that have arisen during broadcasts? Look for how quickly they respond to negative comments/reviews online – this will give you an indication of their customer service standards
- Do they offer quality broadcasting? What resolutions do they support? How many kinds of video codecs does the company use? Is their equipment state of the art?
- Do they have the necessary licenses to broadcast live online? If so, how will this affect your costs?
Ignoring online attendees
It’s crucial to remember that the participants you are interacting with online while planning hybrid events are still people!
Offer opportunities for them to get involved, share their thoughts and ask questions. This is important in terms of increasing engagement among participants who have an “online-only” presence at the event, but it can also help encourage greater participation from those attending in person too.
Make sure these digital attendees feel valued by inviting them to participate in networking activities, special presentations or other sessions throughout the conference duration. This will give you a better idea of what they are interested in, which will be useful when planning future conferences or community initiatives.
Lack of engagement
Some conferences avoid engaging Virtual attendees during live broadcasts because presenters believe there isn’t a point – after all, they won’t even be in the same room!
However, it is important to remember that Virtual attendees are still real people so you should always make an effort to engage them on some level. Here are a few ideas you can try;
- You can ask your presenters to give additional information on interesting topics which require more than their allotted time
- You can include polls or questions throughout sessions (but make sure these won’t interrupt presenters!)
- You can encourage online attendees to share their thoughts and experiences with each other by providing contact details and hashtags throughout broadcasts
All of this will help create opportunities for participants who aren’t able to attend live events but want to get involved and stay informed.
Do not assume that simply because all sessions are online, Virtual attendees will have plenty of time to attend. Also, take into account the fact that they may be watching your conference remotely – not in-person at a desk or monitor!
As such, it’s important to keep presentations short and sweet. If you’re not sure whether presentations are too long, consider asking around among colleagues to see what they think.
Just remember that while some people may say “the longer, the better” more often than not, this is a terrible approach when planning hybrid events!
Privacy and security concerns
It’s important to remember that while Hybrid events can be tremendously convenient and cost-effective, they also expose your brand to a huge number of people around the world without the same levels of security as in-person events.
As such, it’s recommended that you carefully consider what information you’re sharing online – especially when communicating with attendees who are new or linked into your social media platforms for the first time.
To ensure that all Virtual attendees feel safe attending sessions at your conference, make sure you take some precautions beforehand
- Never ask for more personal details than necessary (name only)
- Make sure all equipment is secure before any broadcasts go live on air
- Ensure all session recordings are password-protected and stored on a secure server where Virtual attendees can access them 24/7
- Never share any of your participants’ details with other companies or third parties without their consent
- Do not share links or QR codes without first checking they are correct and the destination is secure
Hybrid events can be an excellent way to engage with a lot of people at once, but only if you consider and plan for all possible issues.
This means keeping sessions engaging and informative while encouraging your presenters not to waffle on too long and including Virtual attendees in the experience as much as possible. After all, they are just as important as those attending in person.
It also means ensuring your brand is safe and secure at all times, both on-air and offline!